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Saturday, 31 December 2011


For a special treat this evening, Gail and I visited a local wine bar/restaurant called Belle and Jerome. They were doing this special five course New Year's Eve meal. We had been before and so knew the food would be delicious and enjoyable. It wasn't too busy. I think most people had 'gone down the pub' or due to the economic climate, had bought a few cans from the supermarket and had stayed at home. For the starter Gail had mushrooms on toast, while I had smoked mackerel. Then there was this little cup of orange and melon 'soup'. It wasn't really soup, more of a thick fruit punch. It was very tasty and helped to settle us into our mains. We both went for the sea bass. Then there was the pudding which consisted of a chocolate fudge brownie and ice cream. Finally there was expresso affogato. A cold coffee drink with a blob of ice cream sticking out like a little frozen island. Neither of us finished it as the coffee taste was too strong. We shared a bottle of rose wine. We wanted to stay until midnight, but Gail was feeling a bit tired, as she has had an eye problem over the last couple of days. In fact we have had to make two trips to the hospital today. So we upped and left, but not before I took this photo of our two wine glasses with the bar's Christmas tree in the background.

So that is the last entry for 2011. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my photographic blog over the last 365 days, and will continue to visit during 2012. So it just leaves me to wish everyone a Happy New Year. One that is filled with joy, happiness and good health.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Review Of The Year

Well I can honestly say that 2011 has been quite eventful year in one way or another. There have been a number of demonstrations in the city centre over the course of the year. None of them violent, but they have been quite large and vocal. Gail and I have done many things together, visited different places and took lots of photos. Monaco was wonderful and it was a pleasure to meet Jilly, who produces the Monte Carlo daily blog. It would be nice to go again and see some other places in the region. I bought myself a new camera. A Nikon D90, which I use a lot as well as my Panasonic GF1. I like to have a swap sometimes, as my GF1 is only fitted with a 20mm lens.

One of the many disappointments that I have had this year is that due to the shortsightedness of a young newspaper reporter, I failed to get this photo into our local evening paper. I offered it to them on a memory card at lunchtime, but for some reason he decided not to take me up on the offer. They had sent one of their own photographers down to see the action, but all they came back with was a rather boring shot of a blackened boat hull and no flames. At least mine is of the action as it is taking place. Maybe I will have more luck in 2012.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


The extended bank holiday this week has really thrown my internal calendar out completely, as I thought yesterday was Tuesday and today Wednesday. I posted this weeks Headbanger Challenge, but didn't write anything about it, as I was planning to do that tonight; which I believed was Wednesday.

It's Kathy's theme this week and she's gone for 'between', to tie in with the week after Christmas and the week before New Year. It could also be the space each side of my ears! No imac this week to poke me with a hard stick, as he and his DW are on holiday yet again.

My photographic interpretation of between shows a couple sitting and staring out to sea. They are obviously so much in love that they are sitting so close together that there is no gap of light showing between them. Looking out to sea, or looking out to their future together, with nothing between them and their dreams.

Please pop over and see how the rest of the team has fared. Links at top right hand corner. And enjoy the music from Vangelis. Heaven and Hell, and the space in between; the solar system.

Today has been another one of those dead days for photography, wet and very windy. It is Gail's birthday tomorrow, so I was looking for a little something for her, rather than snapping away with my camera. I took this one yesterday. One of these street sellers working for a company who claim that you 'could', the important word here, claim back thousands of pounds. What they don't tell you is that they will want half as their commission.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tuesday Tidy-up

Here is last week's festive edition header for the theme of Christmas. Now saved for posterity.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


I'm not sure why these two men are dressed alike at the Christmas fair in the Old Market Square. Maybe they are twins, or they both happen to have gone to the same gents department and accidentally chose the same outfits.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Oscar, But No Oscar

Here's a short shot of Oscar resting on the cats' chair outside our kitchen door and having a little scratch. It's just a test video I took this afternoon with the Flip. As it's an MP4, I had to upload it to YouTube, as it's one of the formats that Blogger doesn't recognise. I know it's not that exciting to watch, but I just wanted to work out the mechanics of the whole process, as I may do some more video blogging in the future.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Flippin Eck!

Gail and I have just spent some quality time together swapping and unwrapping our Christmas presents. We decided not to go too mad this year as we are saving up to get some building work done in the house, hopefully early next year. Of all the presents Gail got me, this is the most exciting; a Flip video recorder. One that shoots in HD and records an hour of film on its internal memory. I probably won't be the next David Lean, but hopefully will manage to take some interesting footage of the events that we will be going to next year.

Another highlight was a pair of fingerless gloves. A very simple present, but one which will come in very handy when I'm using my D90 of GF1 cameras, as my fingers have got that cold before, that I have been scared of dropping them. I of course wrap the straps around my wrist, but there's always the danger of them slipping off.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Almost There

Well the weather today has been a lot different than this time last year. Dull and a bit rainy, rather than cold and snowy. We polished off the shopping today and took Marmalade for his booster jab and to be microchipped. It is the first time that we have taken him to see the vet. Oscar has been a couple of times now and didn't mind at all. Marmalade was a little reluctant to get in the carrier, but conceded. He moaned a little bit, but I think he enjoyed his first car ride and the ensuing adventure. The vet was kind, but firm as Marmalade tried to leg it.

Well it only remains for me to wish you all a great festive time over the next few days and to announce my favourite Christmas song. It is of course The Pogues and the great and sadly missed Kirsty McColl. Is it really 11 years ago that she had that tragic accident in Mexico whilst swimming in safe waters and was hit by a speedboat? A sad loss to the music industry and her legion of fans. But her legacy for a well tuned pop song will live on.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Santa's Little Helper

Oscar decided to get into the Christmas spirit this evening by donning a festive Santa hat. Marmalade wasn't that amused, as he just looked up, shook his little head and went back to sleep.

I took this photo with my iPhone, rather than one of my proper cameras, so the quality may be not what you are used to.

Day four of my Christmas Countdown brings a perennial favourite of many people every December. Besides being a jolly little ditty, it's a very good anti-war song, sung from the point of view of a soldier through many different conflicts. The song of course is Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie. A little bit of trivia here is that it wasn't originally recorded as a Christmas song, but a bod at Stiff Records noticed the word Christmas in the song and thought it would make a great festive song. It made number 3 in 1980. It may have made number one, but the re-release of two John Lennon songs at the same time, who had been shot earlier in the year put paid to that. Which is forgivable in the circumstances, but would be a tragedy if it was released today and kept off the top spot by some X Factor rubbish.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

And The Cat Crept In

A new cat has recently been making an appearance around our property. I became aware of it first, as I thought it was actually Oscar. It was getting dark and I saw this cat run across our drive. From what I could see of it, it looked very much like Oscar. So I shouted 'Oscar', but the cat ignored me and ran off. I was then naturally surprised to see the real Oscar in the kitchen when I opened the door. I told Gail about it, but I wasn't sure if she believed me or not. But she saw it herself a couple of weeks ago. She also managed to take a photo of it the other day, albeit a bit of a blurry one. So I was surprised and pleased to see it sitting on the drive this morning. I think it was looking for food. Anyway it didn't run away, and as I had my camera handy, I managed to take a number of shots of it. And yes it does look a lot like Oscar in both build and colouring. Gail reckons it's Oscar's older brother. I filled a small bowl up with some food and called it over. I went inside and it ran to the bowl. The poor thing must be hungry. I have no idea where all these cats keep coming from, or why they keep landing on our doorstep.

Day three of the Christmas Countdown brings the talented multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield to the fore and his rendition of 'In Dulci Jubilo'. The 500 year old carol translated as 'In Sweet Rejoicing'. A uplifting tune that helps you get into the mood for Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Santa's Come Early

Lincolnshire Dave has thought up this week's Headbanger Challenge, and not surprising he's gone for Christmas. Where do you start, cards, decorations, Santa himself or as I posted yesterday, a snowman? Toys perhaps, or a plethora of wrapping papers. I've gone for lights, but with literally a twist. These lights are on one of the Christmas trees in Beeston. The twist? Well it was the lens itself. Don't forget to pop over and see the rest of the group's efforts with the theme.

Todays post is of the very lens which took the above Headbanger photo. I treated myself to this little telephoto number for my Nikon D90. It's got one of the longest zooms available at a reasonable cost, unless you go for one of the bigger, professional models which are very, very expensive. Something that is way beyond my price range. I plan to learn how to use it well and therefore hopefully my photography will improve.

Here's song number two of my countdown to Christmas. This is from Greg Lake, one of the members of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The famous or infamous prog band from the early 1970s. Personally one of my favourite groups. A good lyrical song which includes an excerpt of Prokofiev's Troika.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Touch Of White

I've decided to start a 5 day countdown until the big day, although for some reason I don't feel particularly festive at the moment. It must be my age, or the fact that Christmas started in July this year. We haven't put the tree up, as Marmalade and Oscar would only think it is a new scratch post. We wrote the last of the cards last night and I've put them in the pillar box this morning. I also popped round to all the neighbours tonight and popped a card through their letterboxes. So that's all the admin done.

For the last couple of days I have been trying to find a suitable photo for this week's Headbanger Challenge. I took this giant snowman, but I wonder if I can find something better? Also as part of the Christmas Countdown, I am going to share my top five favourite Christmas pop songs. As there are so many to choose from, it's been difficult sorting them out. But I think I've got there. Number 5 then is the theme from the Snowman, the classic cartoon from the late 1980's that has been shown on TV every year since.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Seeing Stars

I took this photo of part of Kate Rusby's stage show on my iPhone, using one of the many apps you can get, like a mini Photoshop. Even though Kate and her band weren't on stage at the time; it was the interval, one of the theatre staff still came over and said 'you can't take photos here'. It annoys me in a way when they say this, as I've been told off before at concerts, but then there are several hundred people doing exactly the same thing. So where's the justice?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

By Eke, It Were Good

It was a visit to the Playhouse tonight, to see that wonderful Barnsley born folk singer that is Kate Rusby. She has visited Nottingham for a few years now, just before Christmas with her concert of carols and songs. I actually bought the tickets back in July. But they are always a sell out, so I had to get them when they first came out, as it's traditional for Gail & I to go, as we both love her music so much.

A very entertaining night as we expected, with some great music, intertwined with her funny stories and anecdotes about life in South Yorkshire. She also announced that she is expecting her second child, which received a round of applause. I hope she is able to pay a visit next year, as Christmas wouldn't be the same without her. The poor girl was suffering with the lurgie which Gail & I have had for the last few weeks. She even had to cancel a couple of gigs earlier this week. So we were very lucky to see her tonight.

After the show we stopped of at the stall and bought her new CD, a mug, a tea towel and a songbook, which the band knit whilst they are on the road. As a special Christmas gift they were giving away a free calendar. I then suggested that we stay behind and see if we could say hello to Kate. I thought there would be a few people waiting to see her, but there was only one other; an acquaintance of mine who is a press photographer. Kate was very accommodating, and even apologised for keeping us waiting. Fortunately the doorman at the Playhouse let us stand inside, as it was about -1 outside.
Here's Kate and her partner and fellow musician Damien O'Kane posing especially for me.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ill Lit By Moonlight

After we left the party, Gail and I went for a little stroll round the area. It had stopped raining and wasn't too cold. This is Kayes Walk, which runs alongside the grounds of St Mary's Church. There are some great Victorian buildings in a row that were built for the lace industry, but have now been converted into offices.
Although the area is quite well lit, I wanted to make it more of a moody, noirish image. What is at the end of that flagstoned path?

As an update from yesterday's post, Gail has discovered that the video I was telling you about has now been uploaded to YouTube. So sit back, watch and enjoy.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Gail and I have just got back from a Christmas party at a very unusual venue. St Mary's Church in the Lace Market no less. It had been organised for the hospital department that Gail works for. Also unusually they didn't serve the usual turkey and trimmings, but a curry, supplied from a city centre curry house; ironically not a stones throw away from where I work. It was nice enough, but alas not very hot by the time I was served, as they didn't keep the pans hot, and a 600 year old church can be a very cold building, even with about 120 people in it.
After the meal had been eaten, there was a few sketches and some live music. These three consultants had got dressed up and were singing a spoof version of 'Away in a Manger'. There was also a filmed insert of some doctors and staff miming to 'Do They Know it's Christmas' in a comic way. For example one doctor was singing with a skeleton. It was amusing to watch, and of course was hilarious to the hospital staff who knew them more than I did.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Not Handled With Care

As Gail and I went to a Christmas meal last night, I didn't get the chance of posting my Headbanger Challenge photo. So I'm doing it tonight. This week's theme is 'Look What I Saw', and comes from the old fisherman himself - Tom.
A very wide theme, and another one that could have gone anywhere. I wanted to show something that I was very pleased in seeing. So I am showing this desert scene from Dubai. I have been to Dubai many times and had never seen a camel in real life. Then one day Gail and I went to the beach, and while Gail was doing a spot of sunbathing, I was hunting the area for photos, as I find laying in the sun a waste of time. Looking around I was amazed to see not just one camel, but two, and with a Laurence of Arabia lookalike riding one. I was quite some way away, but took quite a few shots before they walked off into the distance.

Today's blog post is a prime example of when things go wrong, even though you've tried your hardest to stop something happening. Yesterday one of my work colleagues Gina, had made all her team mates a gingerbread man as a token Christmas gift, together with a handmade card. Such a talented girl. Her cupcakes are to die for. Anyway I knew that I wanted to make a blogpost out of it, and so to stop it getting broken, I put it into my empty sandwich box for safekeeping. I only took it out tonight, while I was making dinner. Gail picked it up out of curiosity. She then put it down. Unfortunately it slid off the table and ended up in one of the cats' bowls. Disaster, his leg was broken. Gail said sorry. I then moved it to a safer place. Only disaster again. It slid onto the floor and was decapitated. Only one thing for it now. We'll just have to eat it!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Trip The Light Fantastic

I took this shot of the merry-go-round in the Old Market Square using a slow shutter speed. It was handheld too. It's a great effect and works really well when you have got lots of lights together. And being a slow shutter, any people walking past just tend to become a blur or disappear completely.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tuesday Tidying

Here's last week's Headbanger Challenge as a permanent reminder of the Toys R Us theme.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Star Bags

Audrey Hepburn has always been a style icon, and a local charity shop was selling this bag with her image on it when she played Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. A seminal film with one major flaw; Micky Rooney as the Japanese guy that lives in the same apartment block as Holly. An annoying character, almost as irritating as Jar Jar Binks in the Phantom Menace.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

What The Dickens..

Gail and I went to the Lace Market Theatre tonight to see a friend of mine undertake a dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol. A one off performance, so not to be missed. He was very good too. Doing different voices for all the characters. He was also suffering with the lurgie that is going round, so his own voice was huskier than normal.

Around 40 people had come to see Phil interpret the famous story by Charles Dickens, which he had just performed in Germany earlier in the week. For an amateur he did very well, with lots of movement to keep you watching and your interest. His daytime job is working on the butchery counter in a local supermarket. And I am very glad to say that there was no ham tonight!

Besides treading the boards, Phil is also a photographer and blogger like me. If you're interested in learning more about the man himself and his love of all things French and food related, then here's a link to his blog.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mucking Around

Didn't take any photos today, but have just downloaded GIMP, a free software package, similar to Photoshop. So just thought I would take a photo that I took at the big demonstration last month and see what the GIMP could do. There are quite a number of different ways that you can tweak a photo. After some trial and error, I have come up with this film slide, sepia combo, that is looking a bit worse for wear.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Walkin Italian

From the style of the architecture and the dark haired man coming into the shot, you may think this is Milan, or one of the other fashionable Italian cities. Well it's not. It's actually Low Pavement, slap bang in the middle of Nottingham city centre. Nottingham has some really great buildings; full of character and style, and then there are others, grey, featureless and should be knocked down tomorrow. Of course, some wonderful buildings have been lost since the 1960s, that should have been saved. Still we have to enjoy the ones we have left.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

It's A Wet One

It has been another wet and horrible day here in Nottingham, but fortunately not as bad as they have had it in Scotland, with gale force winds and lashing rain. So there wasn't that much around to photograph. But I did spot this bus with quite an apt drawing of some squid looking wet, considering the weather!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Toys R Us

It's my turn to chose the Headbanger theme this week, and with so much advertising for toys around at the moment with the run up to Christmas, it seemed the obvious choice. I feel sorry for parents these days, being bombarded by their offspring saying "Can I have a...", "I want a... for Christmas". When I was a child (many years ago now) there wasn't so much of it about. Money was a lot tighter, and there just wasn't the choice that there is now. Designer labels were just words in the dictionary and computers were just the work of science fiction. I remember my mum asking me what I would like for Christmas one year. I must have been about four or five at the time. I can vividly recall coming down the hallway stairs and saying that I would like a teddy bear. I may have already had one, or some other soft toys, but a new teddy bear was what I wanted. Money being what it was, my mum decided to make me one. So my header is of the cuddly toy that my mum created with her own fair hands. I still have it after 40 odd years. I know it looks nothing like a teddy bear. The bluey green wool gives that away. So too does the button eyes and the stuffing made from old cut up stockings. But it made me very happy on that Christmas morning in the late 1960s. The poor thing is still hanging on, even though the stitching is coming apart, he is blind in one eye and the stockings have gone hard. But it is still the best Christmas present that I ever had and had years of love and cuddles.

Don't forget to pop over and see what the rest of the gang have come up with this week. And enjoy this sad, but happy song about toys from the great Rolf Harris.

I was hoping to show you a photo of the local legendary fashion designer Paul Smith tonight, as I went along to his main shop in town to buy a special raffle ticket. According to his page on Twitter, he was going to make a guest appearance. Alas it didn't happen, as he had been unexpectedly called away on business. I left my business card with the shop, so maybe one day he will drop me an email inviting me to take his photo. So instead I am showing you another of my boyhood toys. It is Mercedes truck, made by Matchbox and dates from 1969. I was a big collector of Matchbox toys and Ladybird books. And then when I got a little older I moved on to Lego, and built my own cars and trucks from all the plastic bricks and wheels.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Easy Rider

I have been transferring my photos from my Mac to my hard-drive, as an added safety net. Whilst looking through them, I came across this photo that is more suitable for this time of year.

You would certainly need a big space to park this inflatable motorbike with cute polar bear rider and penguin passenger. I just hope their Christmas hats are crash proof!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Leggy Ladies

Thought I would move last weeks Headbanger Challenge photo, to make room for this weeks offering. Seems a bit of a shame for it to disappear forever. So I think from now on I'll put it as a blogpost as well.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Heaven's Above

If you've every wondered what God looks like, well here's your opportunity. This is fellow actor Peter who plays God in the Nativity drama that we are both appearing in this weekend. Today is the last of the performances, of which all have virtually sold out. I'm bearing up, but am glad in a way that they are over now, and I can relax and try and shake off this virus that has been bugging me for the last two weeks.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Two Down, Two To Go

Well today we completed two performances of The Star Safari in Bramcote. It was a bit of a struggle for me personally, as I am presently still suffering with a very bad cough. Thankfully I don't have too many lines to say. But I did manage to get one of them wrong each time today. I blame the effects of the paracetamols I have been taking and disturbed sleep every night this week. The two final performances are tomorrow. And they are both sold out, so it's going to take all the willpower that I have to get through it.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Masking The Truth

Both Gail and I have been struggling with the flu this week. I haven't managed to take any new photos today, so here's another shot from the march on Wednesday.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Hip Hip UAE

I've read today that December marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the United Arab Emirates. As many of you know Gail and I enjoy visiting Dubai for a holiday. Although we haven't been this year for various reasons. So looking through the hundreds and hundreds of photos that I have taken of the place down the years, I have found this one which lists them all, and how far they are from each other. I would say that Dubai is probably the most cosmopolitan, and certainly the most Westernised of the Emirates. It certainly looks a million times different since 1971. Some say that besides the Sheikh's house, the oldest building in Dubai is the clock tower and that dates from 1963!